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How to Buy a Car from a Private Seller and Avoid a Lemon

by Guest Contributor on April 03, 2012

New Car?This post is from Elle at Couple Money.

Last summer my husband and I had a beautiful baby girl and everything changed (for the better). In preparation for her arrival, we’ve created a baby fund, changed the guest room into her nursery, and increased our life insurance coverage should something happen to use. We still have some items on our to do list that we need to complete this year to give us some peace of mind.

One item on our list that we hope to cross off in the next few weeks is buying a family car. Our current cars have served us well over the years. However, neither one of them can accommodate everybody (plus baby gear) comfortably. We were planning on buying another car before the baby arrived, but postponed it to take care of more directly baby related financial goals. Now we’re ready to go with our car replacement fund full and we’re looking for a deal!

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Hacking Treasure Management

by Guest Contributor on March 21, 2012

Larry Chiangby Larry Chiang

Treasure management is something business school neglects to teach.

I am able to get results that are in the category between legendary and awesome. This is because I hacked treasure management. I read and applied, “Richest Man in Babylon”, “Millionaire Next Door”, ‘Ultimate Credit Handbok’ and of course the legendary tome, “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School”. Here is the result in four categories you may feel free to copy-paste. Yes, Copy-Paste is Chapter 3 of my NY Times best selling book, “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School”.

-1- Don’t Rev You Life Engine CONSTANTLY at the Red Line

Have you seen people that are forty that look fifty.

Those are people that keep their engines in the 7000 RPM (revolutions per minute). In life, the church teaches the 70-20-10 rule of treasure management under the concept called tithing. I wont address money’s treasure management but I will focus on time treasure management.

Just like money, time should be divvy’d up 70-20-10 with 70% your necessary work, 20% is invested time and 10% is donated. If you’re at the red line, you’re 110% core work, -5% invested, -5% donated. You know why presidents and Coach Mike D’Antoni age five years per year in office?! THEY are 130/-15/-15!

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Why Expense Ratio Matters (A Lot)

by Guest Contributor on February 23, 2012

At last count there are about 23,000 mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) available to investors in the U.S. Picking from among them for your portfolio can seem daunting. Do you pay attention to past performance? fund management? or something else to find a suitable growth vehicle for your money?

When picking funds, all else being equal (i.e. you’ve already decided on an asset class and investment account), the most important factor for actual returns is expense ratio. This is the annual fund operating expenses fee charged as a percentage of invested amounts in the fund.

Let’s look at how this affects your portfolio in detail.

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The Value of Periodic Rebalancing for Your Portfolio

by Guest Contributor on February 01, 2012

This is a guest post by Jon Xu, who is co-founder at FutureAdvisor, a web service that provides unbiased analysis & recommendations to save money on your investment portfolio. Jon is a friend of mine from high school and as someone who has taken a look at FutureAdvisor, I’m excited to see what they have in store for the future. I don’t spend a lot of time on investing but anything that’ll help me reduce fees and optimize my investing is always something I’m interested in reading more about.

We’ve all seen the intuitive value of having a well-diversified portfolio. This is proven to lower risk and allow you to customize exposure to asset classes that match your investment time horizon. Much less glorified is the value of periodically rebalancing assets in a portfolio. This is equally crucial to maintaining a portfolio that matches your risk profile over time. Moreover, it ensures a much smoother ride that matches the risk level of your initial investment.

The concept is simple: as asset values fluctuate, your portfolio diversification changes and you need to divest/invest periodically to keep your diversification on target. Since the mechanics of rebalancing typically call for sell/buys within your portfolio it leads to buying assets that are on the way down and selling those on the way up.

In short: you are buying low and selling high.
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How to Create a Visual Budget Map

by Guest Contributor on November 14, 2011

Money PlannerThe following is a guest contribution by Kim Palmer.

As much as I love the idea of tracking my money and sticking to a budget, Excel spreadsheets tend to make my eyes glaze over. All those lines and numbers remind me of some of my least favorite economics classes in school. They hardly get me excited about reaching my big money goals, which is what I think a good money management system should do.

As I was searching for better system for myself, I came across an entire community of people who were on a similar search in the business world. So-called creative entrepreneurs, or people earning money from their artistic pursuits, were building new and more intuitive ways of tracking expenses and other standard business tasks.

My ‘aha moment’ came as I was reading Jennifer Lee’s The Right-Brain Business Plan, which lays out a creative and visual approach for setting up a business. What if we applied this right-brain approach to personal finance? Would people like me, who would rather doodle on a sketchpad than tinker with a spreadsheet, find budgeting more enjoyable?

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4 First-Year Valentines Gift Ideas – Lower the Bar With Love

by Guest Contributor on February 02, 2011

RosesMy first Valentine’s Day with my now-husband, I received a gorgeous floral arrangement delivered at work, followed by dinner out and chased with 1/3 carat diamond stud earrings. We were young, had no financial commitments other than auto insurance, and had money to throw at courtin’.

The sad truth: Your first Valentine’s Day performance sets the bar for (what hopefully will be) years to come.

Whether seeking a romantic gift for Valentine’s Day or Hug Your Cat Day, try gifts that say, “there’s no where to go but ‘up’ from here.”

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Reviewing Your Last Will & Testament

by Guest Contributor on January 26, 2011

This is a guest post from Evan of My Journey to Millions.

Like life insurance, someone’s Last Will and Testament is often forgotten about for years. The documents are relegated to the back of the filing cabinet only to see the light of day after something horrible has happened. If I had to give a guess as to why, it probably has to do with the fact that those two items do not effect your day to day life such as over paying for your car insurance or having high interest credit card debt.

Part of every person’s financial review should be a re-reading of their Last Will and Testament. While I may read 4 to 8 Wills a week I can understand why reading one’s own will is not an enjoyable experience. First of all they are usually written in a foreign language known often referred to as legalese, but more importantly it forces you to think about your death and possibly your family’s death. While I can’t make the experience a better one, I can at least provide you with questions to think about when you are reviewing your Last Will and Testament.

This post is part of the 2011 Spring Cleaning Week!

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Debt Collectors Don’t Check Debts, You Should

by Guest Contributor on December 26, 2010

I blogged a while ago about the “halo effect” and how being fiscally responsible can be a sort of “Get out of jail free” card for those rare occasion when you slip up. But what happens when it’s not you who has made the mistake?

I recently got entangled in a bit of an accounting snafu that quite frankly pretty much ruined my weekend. Here’s what happened:

On Saturday as I was heading out to the gym, I stopped by the mailbox to pick up my mail and found an envelope marked “Personal and Confidential.” In my experience, that’s usually a signal that the contents within are just some ad scheme–be it a credit card offer or time share scam or the dreaded “you’ve won a prize and must call xxx-xxx-xxxx immediately to claim it…” Upon opening the letter, however, I was confronted with a statement from a bill collector for an allegedly unpaid bill for a medical laboratory.

Yikes! Talk about a buzz kill…
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